CSR – Durba to Desert Oaks

12th May 2019

Well 16 – Durba Springs 42kms

A much cooler morning this morning, and wood was a bit scarce, so we just had enough to warm us and make some popcorn. Yes, popcorn. Billie and Glen had given us some, back at Well 7, so I decided to give it a crack in the camp oven. I say love, I say pet, I say love. Why had we not thought of this before? It is cheap, lightweight, easy to cook, and delicious. Totally adding this to our standard equipment list. Huge thanks guys, bloody great.

So the boys took off, and I sent the drone after them. When it returned, I got to my job of packing up the Old Girl.  It is a pretty cruisie job really, and I enjoy the quiet routine.

I was the last car, bike or person to leave Well 16, and it was very pleasant.

Back out on the track, it was a morning of more dunes. I was loving them, but I was guessing the guys would not be so much. They were a bit chopped up from previous vehicles, and some we’d chatted to had pretty high pressures in their tyres. It’s not great for the track, and does make the corrugations bigger and more prolific. Chopped up lead-in tracks to the dunes, makes it almost impossible for the bikes to get up, without walking. Will especially, with his thinner tyres. By the time I’d caught them, we were almost at the junction of Calvert Range and the CSR.

Red, soft and great fun (in the car). What an amazing landscape.

The Calvert Range track was closed to help regenerate the area, so we took the opportunity to have a break. Will had had enough of the sand, but Max was going to give it a go for the next session, up to Bellia Springs, have lunch, then decide. So Max took off, Will and I loaded Sandy onto the rack, and then carried on. The track became more rocky and firm, winding through the water courses, with a couple of technical spots. I was very glad to have Will in the car to help me here, as at one point, he needed to get out of the car, and guide me with the radio. I had taken the wrong line, and he helped me get through without damage. Great learning experience.

Lots of animal tracks, but not so many animals yet. Bustard and Hopping Mouse prints. Fresh too. Popcorn and flies at the Calvert Range turn off.

We caught Max up, about a kilometre from the turn off to Bellia Springs, and he was happy to carry on to the Springs, for lunch. It was two kays in, on a very rocky, and rough track. Max is actually quicker on the bike through here, and arrived about five minutes after us. It was a very nice spot, and after a wrap of cheese and chorizo, we took a walk down the gorge. I didn’t go far, and sat on a rocky ledge enjoying the quiet, when a couple of emus rolled in for a drink. I tried not to move or startle them, so they could have a big old drink.

After that dune, I would have pushed the bike into the spinifex and hopped in the car. Bloody hell. But Max is happy, so onto the springs. Very peaceful. 

Max was happy to ride on, only another 8 or 9 kays, so he headed off, while Will drove back along the rough track to the CSR. After passing Max, with about 5 kilometres left, we slowly made our way the final bit, on a soft, sandy, washout track. Well 17 is not accessible anymore, as it is a sacred Matu site, so into Durba Springs we went. As we got there, we were surprised to see a city of cars and tents. Holy moley, so many people. A tour group, of 24, the three old coots from Well 14, the couple with the pumped up tyres, four Apollo 4WD’s on tour, us, and then another two vehicles at the last minute. Bloody hell, where did they all come from?

The most people we’d seen in weeks, it was a little overwhelming. It is a lovely spot to take a break, and even though the spring was very low, we enjoyed it.

Outback Spirit, with their amazing G Wagons, taking people up and down this track. A great bunch of staff, who we loved catching up with.

We had no fire wood tonight, cause we have no room to put it, and we can’t collect from here. Luckily, the old coots had gone out and collected an absolute “Ute” load, and offered to share their fire. It was very nice of them, and we enjoyed another fun night around the fire with them. We also had visits from many of the other campers, who had heard about Max and the group cycling. More so Max. Huh, hey you lot, we’re out here eating flies and getting filthy too ya know? But almost everyone was super supportive, and encouraging. Lovely.

Fred and Darryl weren’t leaving any wood I burnt, and we loved it.

13 – 14th May 2019

Durba Springs, Matu Aboriginal Country

A couple of rest days, to assess how things have gone so far, where we are at, physically, mentally and supplies wise. It is a nice place to do this, although it has definitely seen better days. It has been a tough season, last wet season, with not enough rain, or water running down to these Springs. We can’t top up our water supplies here, so will do that at Well 18, our next destination.

We enjoyed the beautiful surrounds, especially after everyone left.

We were supremely luck, yesterday, to have the place to ourselves after everyone departed in the morning. It was very quiet, and we had visits from many birds. They stayed pretty hidden when the place was a wash with people, but now it’s just us, and there is no “people” noise, they have come out of hiding. Willie Wagtails, Ring neck Parrots, Flycatchers, Mudlarks, Crows and a couple of tiny ones, too fast for me to identify.

Who wouldn’t love relaxing in this place?

Most of our day was spent consolidating food supplies, water, car checks, and doing fuck all. It was great. We were even able to have a wash in the sun, and after Max went out and pilfered all the left over wood, we could enjoy a nice roast lamb, under the trees and starlight.

Stunning light at dusk, after a day of drawing and jamming in the quiet gorge.

The one thing that is still a constant pain in our lives, are the bloody flies. They are relentless. From about 8am till dark. Some of the worst flies we’ve all experienced. They don’t even seem to mind DEET. They are incredible.

No fly net, we just had to improvise. The buff worked great, mostly, except it was difficult to see when walking, and I did stack it, tripping over a tut of grass and commando rolling in the dirt. No one saw, so maybe it didn’t really happen. 🤣

So with everything in order, we are enjoying another day of quiet bird watching, listening, and the tranquility of Durba Springs. Tomorrow we head off again, through the four kilometres of soft sand back to the CSR track. Our next aim is Lake Disappointment, where Max is keen to hunt Tektites. Pieces of meteorites, Max tells us. Once around this large salt lake, we will detour along the Talawana track through Jigalong, to Newman, for a restock, and clean up. It will also be nice to catch up with family, and the universe.

So on we go, with renewed confidence, and energy. It is tough, but we are determined to give it the best we can.

15th May 2019

Durba Springs – Casuarina 71kms

An early start for the cyclists, on a cooler morning. After having the place to ourselves for a night and half a day, only one more traveller came in. Robert is a lone traveller from Perth, just wanting to get away from the busy city for a bit. So he chucked some gear into his car, fuelled up, and head off. It was nice to chat with him, and he added more wood to our collection. He also came over and enjoyed the fire last night. This morning, after the boys had gone, he wandered over to see if I needed a hand. I was quietly pottering around, getting it sorted, and was fine, but it was nice to chat.

That’s how you do it folks. Want to go, pack some gear and just hit the road. A few days, a week or more, it doesn’t matter. Take time for yourself.

At nine o’clock, I tried to radio the guys, but got no response. I believe it is because I was in between the Durba Hills, and the signal was not good. I drove out a little way, and got a response immediately. They were about ten kilometres from Durba Springs, and the going was tough. Will mentioned to me to ensure the centre diff lock was on, because the first dune was tougher than previous ones. Lucky he mentioned that, it wasn’t on. Off I went, securely locked into 4WD, and got to the first dune. Yep, it was steep, sandy and chewed up. The Old Girl took it in her stride, and it was fun. Shortly after that, Will radioed in to say he’d had enough of these dunes, and hacked his toe on his pedal, pushing up a dune (he’d got sick of the sand in his sandals and taken them off to walk up it), and was waiting at the 14km mark, under a tree.

This is what the Pussy wagon is for, rescuing angry, frustrated cyclists. Will hopped in, and we contacted Max. He was determined to push on to Well 18, and conquer the dunes. It had been a constant sandy ride today, all dunes and soft sand. We came over a dune, zigzagged along the valley, then crawled over another one. About five kilometres from Well 18, we pulled off the track and waited for Max. He was looking tired, hot and hungry. Left over roast lamb wraps, and water, and a short break, before Max rode on to the Well. As we packed up, Max called in to notify us of south bound vehicles, who stopped and had a chat with us.

Waiting for Max to arrive for lunch. We do love the colours of the desert.

Brian and his wife, and another vehicle (I am so sorry everyone, I have lost all your names), from Toowoomba, were all so lovely. After discussing the current Well, and a couple of other sites, we were onto our next couple of days travel. In this conversation, we mentioned heading for Newman to restock, as we’d run out of beer. Brian, ever so kindly gave us some beers, and a few lemonades. How bloody brilliant are these guys? Totally made our day. Will forgot about his sore toe, and the flies didn’t seem so annoying, (yes they did.).

Travelling these outback tracks bring some out the best in everyone. We are all dirty and suffering in some way. Kindness goes around and around. These guys are certainly going to get some back. Best beer ever!

As we arrived at Well 18, Max was just finishing having a wash, and looked utterly buggered. The water was good, so we topped up all supplies, and enjoyed a good wash too. For me this was wash number four, in three weeks. It felt great. Most nights I just use wet wipes to clean the important areas, and a few times I’ve used the boys spray bottle for my feet, so it felt really great to pour a bit of water over me. I also gave some clothes a rinse off.

Unless you have been dusty and sweaty for days on end, you won’t understand how much we enjoyed tipping water over ourselves. Heaven in the desert. Imagine how the first white stockmen felt?

Max reckoned he could ride another 10 kays, but as he’d bathed, we suggested he jump in the Pussy wagon, and we’d see if we could push out a bit bigger day. Food supplies are getting low, and we really need to make a bit more distance. He was up for that, so we drove on. Lots and lots of dunes, sandy track, and not too many good camp sites. Eventually we located Casuarina camp, which is a sheltered, good sized clearing, amongst the Desert Oaks. Gold. So we got out the beers, and sat and enjoyed one before getting sorted. It was a very nice end to a long day. Cheers Brian, thank you so much.

Lots of trailers and vehicles that just didn’t make it on this track. Many reasons why, and luckily the Old Girl is hanging in there, even though the ARB Airlocker is dripping oil for no reason.

Hey hey hey, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. Amazing!

The Desert Oaks, or Casuarinas, are amazing trees, hardy and versatile. They always provide good camp spots, fire wood, and shade. 

Another amazing effort of cycling by Max and Will, and for me it was a tough day driving. This is really not a fast car track. Lots of concentration, low gears, and weaving along the terrain. Overhanging burnt trees, scratching the car, broken sticks trying to stake the tyres, it’s a constant challenge. But I am really enjoying this personal challenge, it is fun and exciting.




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